Brexit has thrown a wrench into the gears of cross-border shipping, making it a maze of complex rules and regulations for businesses importing and exporting to the UK. Navigating this labyrinth is crucial to avoid potential penalties and keep the wheels of commerce turning smoothly. 

Despite these challenges, cross-border shipping isn’t slowing down. In fact, a study by Juniper Research predicts a 107% surge in cross-border ecommerce transactions by 2028, exceeding a whopping £2trn globally. 

Maxime Vermeir, senior director of AI strategy at ABBYY

Given this rise in volume and value, it’s more critical than ever to ensure that goods cross borders swiftly and efficiently. This means flawless documentation from the start, and this is where AI, specifically purpose-built AI, steps in. 

Purpose-built AI, designed to tackle specific needs with precision and efficiency, operates on small language models (SLMs). These models are less resource-intensive and cheaper to run than their larger counterparts, making them perfect for the task at hand. 

Businesses – including shipping companies – that embrace purpose-built AI to automate documentation processing will reap immediate benefits.

Automating to reduce errors and save time 

Manually processing shipping documents is slow and prone to errors, leading to costly delays. Mistakes in documentation can cause major headaches, from shipping delays and extra fees to product spoilage and missed delivery deadlines, all of which hit revenue and customer loyalty hard. 

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AI-powered intelligent document processing (IDP) systems are a game-changer. These systems, equipped with pre-trained AI skills for specific documents, can identify, extract, and understand key data, processing it with the same accuracy and context awareness as human employees but without the manual effort. 

Implementing IDP tools reduces the need for manual data entry, improves accuracy, ensures compliance, and speeds up the payment of taxes and fees.

On the other hand, a variety of AI solutions, predictive analytics, and machine learning tools are available to streamline processes, eliminate bottlenecks, and optimise operations, providing exceptional customer service – all of which can be found in process intelligence (PI).

If clearances hit a snag, PI can pinpoint the issue, prioritise urgent cases, or even better predict issues and initiate resolution before they transpire. 

Meeting customer expectations with AI

Delays at the border can lead to spoiled products, detention fees, or missed delivery deadlines – jeopardising relationships with clients. In a customer-centric industry, swift and error-free processing is key to enhanced customer satisfaction.

Purpose-built AI ensures a seamless experience, minimizing delays and meeting deadlines. If clearances are disrupted, PI tools identify the problem areas, helping prioritise and resolve them quickly by leveraging IDP to streamline operations. 

A more efficient process builds trust and loyalty among clients, with real-time shipment updates adding a layer of transparency.

Take brewery giant Carlsberg, they implemented AI-powered IDP to automate purchase order processing, significantly speeding up deliveries and saving about eight minutes per order – a massive cost saving for any company. 

Boosting efficiency at the border 

Faster order processing means quicker deliveries and faster payments. IDP helps organisations accurately extract information from shipping documents, with instant verification at every clearance and checkpoint throughout the shipment’s journey. 

The sheer volume of documents involved in international shipping, from invoices to customs forms, has only increased post-Brexit. An average international shipment involves 36 different documents with 240 copies, according to the International Chamber of Commerce and World Trade Organisation. Processing these manually is unsustainable both from a practical, economical but also environmental perspective. 

IDP significantly speeds up border processing while reducing costs and errors. For example, Irish frozen pie manufacturer Portumna Pastry used ABBYY’s IDP to achieve 100% accuracy in extracting data from complex transportation and logistics documents, cutting customs clearance times from over an hour to just five minutes. 

Purpose-built AI models, designed to understand the intricacies of shipping documents, offer immediate return on investment. 

The key to successfully integrating AI into shipping operations is to ensure it addresses specific business challenges, creating a seamless shipping process. Whether it’s speeding up customs clearance, expediting order processing, addressing skills shortages, or improving cash flow, AI must be implemented purposefully and strategically to keep shipments moving efficiently across borders.